Boeing and Thermwood Partner to Demonstrate New 3D Printing Technology

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, Oct 09, 2018

Tags: Thermwood, Thermwood LSAM, LSAM, 3D Print, 3D printing, Additive Manufacturing, Additive, Boeing, Announcements, VLP, Vertical Layer Printing, aerospace, 777x


Boeing and Thermwood Partner to Demonstrate New 3D Printing Technology


Boeing and Thermwood Partner to Demonstrate New 3D Printing Technology

Boeing and Thermwood have employed additive manufacturing technology to produce a large, single-piece tool for the 777X program.  The project is demonstrating that additive manufacturing is ready to produce production quality tooling for the aerospace industry.

Thermwood used a Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine and newly developed Vertical Layer Print (VLP) 3D printing technology to fabricate the tool as a one-piece print, eliminating the additional cost and schedule required for assembly of multiple 3D printed tooling components. In the joint demonstration program, Thermwood printed and trimmed the 12-foot-long R&D tool at its southern Indiana demonstration lab and delivered it to Boeing in August 2018.

Boeing Research & Technology engineer Michael Matlack believes the use of Thermwood’s additive manufacturing technology in this application provided a significant advantage, saving weeks of time and enabling delivery of the tool before traditional tooling could be fabricated.

Boeing & Thermwood tool after vertical layer printing

The tool was printed as a single piece from 20% carbon fiber reinforced ABS using the Vertical Layer Print system. Boeing purchased a Thermwood LSAM machine with the VLP functionality for the Interiors Responsibility Center (IRC) facility in Everett, Washington.

The ability to quickly produce large-scale tooling at a quality level suitable for a real world production environment represents a significant step in moving additive technology from the laboratory to the factory floor.

Boeing & Thermwood final machined part

Please click below for video 


More Information on LSAM

LSAM is based on exciting new technology developed from an entirely new direction.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Thermwood has already applied for 19 separate patents on various aspects of this new technology (several have already been granted and more will be coming as development continues). LSAM is truly “state of the art” in this exciting new world of Large Scale Additive Manufacturing. 

The Secret to LSAM Print Quality...A Different Process

Examples of large parts easily printed on Thermwood's LSAM

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

LSAM Printed PESU Tool is Vacuum Ready Without the Use of External Coatings

Posted by Duane Marrett on Mon, Oct 08, 2018

Tags: Thermwood, Thermwood LSAM, LSAM, 3D Print, 3D printing, Additive Manufacturing, Additive, Announcements, Test Results

LSAM Printed PESU Tool is Vacuum Ready Without the Use of Coatings

Thermwood recently printed a tool using PESU (which is a high temp material mixed with 25% carbon fiber) to test for vacuum integrity on an LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) system.  After printing and machining the tool, we vacuum bagged it and immediately achieved 28 InHg.  The vacuum line to the bag was then removed, and almost 2 hours later, the vacuum had only dropped 1 InHg to 27 InHg. 

This test result was achieved without the use of any type of external coatings or sealers - the bag was placed directly on the final trimmed surface. 

LSAM tool vacuum test - with vacuum line attached


LSAM tool vacuum test - holding vacuum with vacuum line attached


LSAM tool vacuum test - holding vacuum with vacuum line removed


LSAM tool vacuum test - holding vacuum with vacuum line removed - Closeup


LSAM PESU Part - Side View

See this Process in Person at CAMX 2018

Thermwood will have this tool on display to demonstrate this process in our booth (J60) at the upcoming CAMX show held in Dallas, TX on Oct 16th-18th. 


More Information on LSAM

LSAM is based on exciting new technology developed from an entirely new direction.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Thermwood has already applied for 19 separate patents on various aspects of this new technology (several have already been granted and more will be coming as development continues). LSAM is truly “state of the art” in this exciting new world of Large Scale Additive Manufacturing. 

The Secret to LSAM Print Quality...A Different Process

Examples of large parts easily printed on Thermwood's LSAM

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood will be exhibiting at the upcoming IMTS Additive Manufacturing Conference 2018 in Chicago, IL

Posted by Duane Marrett on Mon, Sep 10, 2018

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Additive Manufacturing, 3Dprinting, IMTS, Additive, Thermwood LSAM, LSAM, Trade Shows


Thermwood is a platinum sponsor of the 2018 IMTS Additive Conference in Chicago, IL


Thermwood LSAM 10'x20' Machine ShownThe Additive Conference 2018 (September 11th and 12th) in Chicago, IL starts this week, and Thermwood will be there to talk LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing). 

We will have 3D printed samples to see and  touch as well as videos and literature.  Our knowledgeable sales staff will also be on hand to help answer any questions you may have about the future of Large Scale Additive Manufacturing and how the Thermwood LSAM can help your company charge ahead in this new area. 

More Information on LSAM

LSAM is based on exciting new technology developed from an entirely new direction.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Thermwood has already applied for 19 separate patents on various aspects of this new technology (several have already been granted and more will be coming as development continues). LSAM is truly “state of the art” in this exciting new world of Large Scale Additive Manufacturing. 

LSAM produces superior printed parts.

 Request More Information from Thermwood

 

The Secret to LSAM Print Quality… A Different Process

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Aug 17, 2018

Tags: Thermwood, Thermwood LSAM, LSAM, 3D Print, 3D printing, Additive Manufacturing, Additive

The Secret to LSAM Print Quality… A Different Process

Prior to LSAM, 3D polymer printing was all done using essentially the same approach. Parts were printed with a small print bead onto a hot table, in a heated chamber, keeping the printed part hot until printing was complete.

While this worked reasonably well for smaller net shape parts, scaling the process up for large near-net-shape parts didn’t work quite as well.


A Different Approach

Thermwood took a fundamentally different approach with our LSAM large scale additive manufacturing system. Instead of printing with a small bead in a heated environment, Thermwood uses a large bead, printed at room temperature in an essentially “continuous cooling” process.

Thermwood LSAM compression wheel printing a large bead.

The beads are large enough, with enough heat energy, to completely fuse with the previous layer. Thermwood also employs a temperature controlled “compression wheel” to form the round melt coming from the print nozzle into a flattened bead and fuse it with the previous layer.

With this process, print speed is essentially controlled by the cooling rate of the polymer being printed, rather than by the output of the print head. The printed bead must cool enough to support the next layer, but must still be warm enough to fuse completely with it.

This means that there is a specific temperature range, which is different for each polymer, where this approach to printing works. Each polymer requires a certain amount of time to cool to within that temperature range. That amount of time is the fastest that a layer can be printed, regardless of its size.

Thermwood LSAM can easily print very large parts

The output capacity of the print head simply determines how large a layer you can print in the amount of time available for each layer. Thermwood’s standard 40mm melt core can print layer lap lengths of over 200 ft. with most polymers. For even larger parts, Thermwood is working on an even larger melt core which can be retrofitted into the same print head housing as the 40mm core.

This process yields almost perfectly fused structures. Molds printed using the LSAM process routinely hold vacuum at elevated temperature and pressure in an autoclave without the need for any type of external coating.

Examples of large parts easily printed on Thermwood's LSAM

Unique Part Hold Down Method

The only issue remaining was how to hold the parts during printing. In the previous process, polymer parts tend to stick to a heated table. Since Thermwood’s process doesn’t have a heated table, this wouldn't work. Also, since parts are both printed and trimmed on the same machine with LSAM, the part needed to be held for trimming after it was printed and cooled. Parts generally release from a heated table when they cool down.

LSAM's Patented "Bead Board"

Part printed on Thermwood LSAM"s patented "bead board"

Thermwood’s approach to this requirement turned out to be quite unique. We developed a “bead board” to hold the parts both during printing and trimming.

The beard board consists of a plywood panel to which ABS pellets or “beads” are glued.

When a part is printed with this method, it fuses with the ABS beads holding it to the board, but one additional thing happens. Heat from the printed bead not only heats the ABS beads but also heats the glue holding them.

The glue softens enough that the beads can move on the board as the part cools and shrinks, eliminating cooling stresses that might otherwise be generated by a more rigid system. Once cool, the glue re-hardens holding the part securely for trimming. A couple of large screwdrivers and a hammer will remove the part once it is complete. 

LSAM Printing - Final Thoughts

This print approach required an almost complete rethinking of the print head design, control system operation and software, and we will explore those issues later.

For now, know that LSAM printing, at its very core, is fundamentally different. 

Complex part printed on Thermwood's LSAM


More Information on LSAM

LSAM is based on exciting new technology developed from an entirely new direction.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Thermwood has already applied for 19 separate patents on various aspects of this new technology (several have already been granted and more will be coming as development continues). LSAM is truly “state of the art” in this exciting new world of Large Scale Additive Manufacturing. 

LSAM produces superior printed parts.

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood LSAM 10'x40' - The World's Largest Composite 3D Printer is Now Installed at Local Motors!

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Jun 27, 2018

Tags: Thermwood, Thermwood LSAM, LSAM, 3D Print, 3D printing, Additive Manufacturing, Additive, Local Motors, World's Largest 3D Composite 3D Printer, Olli

Installation of the world's largest composite 3D Printer is now complete at Local Motors. This massive Thermwood LSAM 10'x40' is ready to get to work making the Olli! 

Installation of the world's largest composite 3D Printer is now complete at Local Motors. This massive Thermwood LSAM 10'x40' is ready to get to work making the Olli!
Thermwood LSAM 10'x40' - Ready to work! 


Looking down the working envelope from the print gantry side of the Thermwood 10'x40' LSAMLooking down the working envelope from the print gantry side of the Thermwood 10'x40' LSAM

A part in the process of being printed on the Thermwood 10'x40' LSAM at Local MotorsA part in the process of being printed on the Thermwood 10'x40' LSAM at Local Motors

Looking down the working envelope from the print gantry side of the 10'x40' Thermwood LSAM at Local Motors
Looking down the working envelope from the print gantry side

Another view of the 10'x40' LSAM at Local MotorsAnother view of the 10'x40' LSAM at Local Motors

A view from the trim gantry side of the Thermwood LSAM 10'x40' at Local MotorsA view from the trim gantry side of the Thermwood LSAM 10'x40' at Local Motors

About The Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood offers a line of dual gantry additive manufacturing machines which both print and trim parts on the same machine. These are large industrial additive manufacturing machines that can be up to 100 feet long.  Thermwood LSAM 10'x20'

LSAM (pronounced L-sam) represents an all new technology for large scale 3D printing of thermoplastic polymers. While other large scale additive efforts attempt to scale up small, filament-fed desktop printer techniques, LSAM is, at its core, designed for additive manufacturing of large structures using a fundamentally different approach

LSAM is different. The print process is different. The machine is different. The print head is different. The control is different. The software is different and the resulting parts are different.

LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components.

Although suitable for producing a wide variety of components, Thermwood is focusing on producing industrial tooling, masters, patterns, molds and production fixtures for a variety of industries including aerospace, automotive, foundry and boating.       

About Local Motors

Local MotorsLocal Motors is a ground mobility company focused on shaping the future for the better. Founded in 2007 with a belief in open collaboration and co-creation, Local Motors is a digital OEM, capable of micro-manufacturing, sales, service and operations all from a local footprint using a microfactory.

Meet Olli

 

 

Thermwood LSAM 10'x20' and 10'x40' in Production

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, May 16, 2018

Tags: Thermwood, Thermwood LSAM, LSAM, 3D Print, 3D printing, Additive Manufacturing, Additive

Birds-eye view of two Thermwood LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) machines currently in production here at our factory. Get up close and personal with a 10'x20' as well as a massive 10'x40' LSAM Large Format 3D printer. 

About The Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood offers a line of dual gantry additive manufacturing machines which both print and trim parts on the same machine. These are large industrial additive manufacturing machines that can be up to 100 feet long.  

Thermwood LSAM 10'x20'

The Thermwood LSAM is used to produce large to very large sized components from reinforced thermoplastic composite materials. 

Although suitable for producing a wide variety of components, Thermwood is focusing on producing industrial tooling, masters, patterns, molds and production fixtures for a variety of industries including aerospace, automotive, foundry and boating.    

Thermwood Appoints Scott Vaal as LSAM Product Manager

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Feb 09, 2018

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Employees, Thermwood LSAM, Promotions

Thermwood Appoints Scott Vaal as Manager of Additive ManufacturingThermwood Corporation announced today the promotion of Scott Vaal to the position of LSAM Product Manager.

In his new role, Scott will be responsible for all aspects of our Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) system including product/software enhancements, potential markets and more. 

Scott is a long-standing employee with Thermwood and has held various positions with the company over the past 24 years.

Scott is married with 3 children and resides in Southern Indiana.

Thermwood Corporation a leading manufacturer of CNC routers and Large Scale Additive Manufacturing systems with thousands of installations worldwide spanning 45+ years of business.

Thermwood 3D Printed PPS Test Panel Maintains Vacuum Without Coatings

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Jun 14, 2017

Tags: LSAM, Thermwood LSAM, 3D Print, 3D printing, Additive, Additive Manufacturing, Announcements, FRC East, PPS, Test Results

Thermwood Logo

Thermwood has taken a major step toward its goal of 3D printing autoclave capable tooling from high temperature carbon fiber filled thermoplastic materials.

As an added benefit, Thermwood believes it will soon produce molds and tooling that function properly under vacuum in a heated, pressurized autoclave without the use of any type of coating to seal the printed tools. 

50% Carbon Fiber filled PPS Panels Tested by Fleet Readiness Center

50% Carbon Fiber Filled PPS Panel Printed and Machined on LSAM

50% Carbon Fiber Filled PPS Panel Printed and Machined on LSAM

Working toward this goal, Thermwood engineers have printed 50% Carbon Fiber filled PPS panels on its LSAM additive manufacturing machine that held vacuum to an industry acceptable level in independent testing. The test was conducted by the Fleet Readiness Center, FRC-East, located at MCAS Cherry Point, NC under a previously announced Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) partnership, and the results met FRC-East acceptance criterion that the bag must not lose more than 2 in Hg over 5 minutes.  

Fleet Readiness Center East

View of LSAM PPS Sample with Vacuum Bag

View of LSAM PPS Sample with Vacuum Bag

View of LSAM PPS Sample and Vacuum Bag without Vacuum Hose
View of LSAM PPS Sample and Vacuum Bag without Vacuum Hose 

Previously, other unaffiliated companies have tested actual tools printed by Thermwood from 20% Carbon Fiber filled ABS and have also found that those tools held vacuum to an acceptable level without the use of any sealer or coating; however, the ABS material is not suitable for high temperature applications. 

LSAM ABS Demonstration Part Showing as printed (rough cut and finished surfaces)

LSAM ABS Demonstration Part showing as printed (rough cut and finished surfaces) 

Vacuum Bagging Test on LSAM ABS Demonstration Part at Fleet Readiness

Vacuum Bagging Test on LSAM ABS Demonstration Part at Fleet Readiness 

Despite that, several parts have been made from those tools under vacuum at room temperature and at slightly elevated temperatures. Thermwood has also already printed a 50% Carbon Fiber filled three dimensional PPS mold which has not yet been tested. Thermwood’s goal is to produce molds that will be used in a production autoclave, molding finished parts suitable for actual end use. 

Thermwood's Additive Printing Process 

Thermwood’s additive printing process differs fundamentally from conventional Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printing. Most FDM processes print parts by melting and extruding a relatively small bead of thermoplastic material onto a heated build platin that is contained within a heated chamber. The heated chamber keeps the extruded material from cooling too much before the next layer is added.

Thermwood machines print a large bead at such a high rate that a heated environment is not needed. It is basically an exercise in controlled cooling. Print speed is adjusted so that each layer cools to the proper temperature just as the next layer starts to print resulting in a continuous printing process that produces high quality parts. Thermwood believes this fundamentally different approach produces superior parts. 

Thermwood's Patent Pending Compression Roller 

Thermwood Patent Pending Compression Roller

One other feature that Thermwood engineers believe helps produce solid, void free parts, is a patent pending compression roller that follows directly behind the print nozzle, flattening the bead while fusing it tightly to the previous layer. 

More About LSAM

Thermwood LSAM 10'x10' Additive Manufacturing Machine

Thermwood’s large scale dual gantry LSAM machines both print and trim parts on the same machine. They are programmed with Thermwood’s LSAM Print 3D slicing software, which is rapidly becoming the most capable additive manufacturing software in the industry.

The LSAM and its software operate within Mastercam and are specifically designed for near-net-shape, rather than net-shape printing.

It works with most major CAD file formats including virtually all solid, surface and mesh formats. Thermwood maintains a continuing software development effort to continuously improve, enhance and expand its features and capabilities.

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood Adds Important New Features to its LSAM Print3D Additive Manufacturing Software

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, May 30, 2017

Tags: LSAM, Thermwood LSAM, 3D Print, 3D printing, Additive, Additive Manufacturing, Announcements, Updated Features

Thermwood has added significant new capabilities to its LSAM Print3D additive manufacturing software. Thermwood’s software is a true CAD based slicing software which operates within Mastercam to generate additive printing programs for Thermwood’s Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM, pronounced L-Sam) machines.

Unlike most other slicing software which generates net shape programs for small thin print beads and only works with .STL files, LSAM Print 3D works with true CAD file formats commonly used in industry, including solids, surfaces and meshes. It is designed at its core for industrial “near-net-shape” additive manufacturing applications with features tailored to large parts printed at high rates using large print beads. 

LSAM Print3D Software

Near Net Shape Additive Manufacturing

“Near net shape” additive manufacturing is a two-step process where the part is first printed at high speed to a size slightly larger than needed and then trimmed to the final size. Net shape software can be made to work for small “near net shape” parts provided small print beads are used, but net shape software doesn’t work for large structures printed at high speed using large print beads. LSAM Print 3D is specifically designed for large scale “near net shape” industrial applications. 

Concurrent Printing Feature

A new concurrent printing feature has been added with which multiple parts can be printed concurrently, dramatically improving throughput as well as offering some interesting new possibilities. 

How It Works

The system operates by printing the first layer of each part, then the next layer of each part and so on. While this appears rather simple at first, it is not quite as straightforward as it first appears. If all the parts are made essentially the same way, it is, in fact, simple. But in many cases, different parts may be printed differently, using different printing parameters and/or layer definitions. One part may be totally solid, the next completely open. One part may have thin walls the next thick walls. The software allows each part to be independently designed without regard to the others and can still print them concurrently. 

LSAM Print3D Slicing Controls

The major production improvement that results from this new ability is due in large part to Thermwood’s high output print head and large table sizes. Versions of Thermwood’s print head have been tested at output rates of over 500 Lbs/hr. To understand how this works, you must understand the unique nature of Thermwood’s print system. Unlike traditional FDM printing techniques which print slowly onto a heated table in a heated environment, Thermwood’s LSAM machines print at such a high speed that the process must be continuously cooled rather than heated. All the heat in Thermwood’s system comes from the print head. 

Using Thermwood’s print system, the current layer must be cool and stable enough that the new layer doesn’t distort it, but must also be warm enough that it fuses completely with the new layer. With carbon fiber filled ABS for example, even with fan cooling, it requires at least a minute and a half wait time between layers. Higher temperature materials can generally be printed at somewhat faster rates but, Thermwood’s high speed print head prints most part layers, even large parts, in much less time than that.

Instead of pausing or running really slowly to accommodate the minimum wait time between layers, multiple parts can be printed in the same amount of time, provided there is enough available table space. Thus, the faster the print head and the more available table space, the more parts you can print concurrently. With this new feature, the ability of the software to concurrently print dissimilar parts is not a limiting factor. 

Print Parts Side by Side or on Top of Each Other

Many times, really large parts or molds are made in sections that are then combined into the final structure. Multiple sections of these type of parts can now be printed at the same time, reducing print time for large structures by as much as 80%, while still adhering to the minimum time between layers dictated by the thermoplastic material. In addition to dramatically reducing average print time, there are other important aspects to this new capability that aren’t obvious at first. 

With LSAM Print3D, Print Parts Side by Side or on Top of Each Other

As an example, when you need a more complex part, you can design it as two or more separate parts and then print them next to each other or even on top of each other so that they fuse together during the print process, resulting in a single complex structure that would be difficult to program and make any other way. Internal supports are no longer restricted to just standard infill patterns. As interesting as this is, it gets even more involved. 

Differences Between LSAM Print 3D and Other Slicing Software

Current FDM slicing software focuses primarily on the outside shape of a part. Infills may be used on the part interior, but there are real limitations to the use of standard infill patterns.

Thermwood’s new software capability can begin printing a part at any layer above the table top. There is an interesting reason why you would want to do this.

Break Up Complex Parts Into Multiple Individual Parts

LSAM Print3D software supports an all new way to design and print parts with highly complex interior features. It does this by using a fundamentally different approach to part design and printing:

  • This new approach begins by breaking up complex parts into multiple individual parts and then printing the parts concurrently inside or even on top of one another.
  • To accomplish, this some layers may not begin printing at layer one, but may instead begin printing somewhat above the bottom layer (for example - to print a large part with a solid bottom and interior features, you would begin by printing the solid base and then add the interior features, which would be separate parts).
  • To do this, you need to begin printing at the level of the already printed base which is in fact, a distance above the table top.

This opens a whole new world of part design to additive manufacturing and dramatically broadens the capability of the underlying technology.  

With LSAM Print3D, you can break up comples parts into multiple individual parts

 

 

With LSAM Print3D, you can break up comples parts into multiple individual parts
With LSAM Print3D, you can break up comples parts into multiple individual parts
With LSAM Print3D, you can break up comples parts into multiple individual parts

Other Interesting Features

Design interior walls as part of a CAD part design, and have LSAM Print3D automatically recognize these as single bead interior support walls

Another interesting new feature is the ability to design interior walls as part of a CAD part design and have the software recognize these as single bead interior support walls and automatically develop a program to print them as designed. The software has also been taught specific operational characteristics of the of the LSAM machine which it automatically takes into account when generating a slicing program.

Automatically Generates a CNC Program Ready to Run on LSAM

Output of the LSAM Print 3D software is a CNC program ready to run on the LSAM print gantry. No additional CAM or post processing software is required. 

Automatically generates a CNC program ready to run on LSAM

Ongoing LSAM Development

Thermwood maintains an ongoing additive manufacturing software development effort and expects new features to be developed and released on a regular basis.

“We are at the very beginning of this new technology” says Thermwood’s Chairman and CEO, Ken Susnjara. “There is still a lot of unexplored territory and challenges to address”. 

Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM

Thermwood Unveils New 3D Print Head Design for LSAM

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, May 23, 2017

Tags: LSAM, Thermwood LSAM, 3D Print, 3D printing, Additive, Additive Manufacturing, Announcements

New Print Head Design for LSAM

Thermwood Corporation has unveiled a new design for the print head on its large scale additive manufacturing machines which it calls LSAM, (pronounced L-Sam). This new “Universal” design print head can be equipped with any of three interchangeable “Melt Cores”.

The print head is large by industry standards, being over 10 feet long and weighing one and a half tons, but despite the size and weight it moves at speeds up to five feet per second. The print head is designed so that the “Melt Core”, which consists of a feed housing, extruder and polymer melt pump, can be changed should higher or lower print rates be required.

New Print Head Design for Thermwood LSAM

Universal Print Head Installed on LSAM Development Machine

Thermwood has installed a universal print head on its current 10’ x 10’ LSAM development machine with a 40mm Melt Core and has successfully printed composite tooling masters from 20% Carbon Fiber filled ABS, and has printed actual autoclave tooling from both 50% Carbon fiber filled PPS and 20% Carbon Fiber filled Ultem using this print head. 

Universal Print Head Installed on LSAM Development Machine

LSAM is DIfferent Than Other Thermoplastic 3D Printers

The print head is a critical element in Thermwood’s additive manufacturing process which functions differently than other FDM thermoplastic 3D printers. Most thermoplastic additive manufacturing systems print with a relatively small print bead onto a heated table in a heated environment. The heated environment is needed to keep newly printed layers from getting too cool to properly fuse with subsequent layers.

In Thermwood’s approach, the only heat source is the print head itself. A heated environment isn’t required. The process prints a large bead at such high output rates that the printed layer must be cooled rather than heated to achieve the proper layer to layer fusing temperature. The entire process is essentially an exercise in controlled cooling and produces large size, high quality, virtually void free printed structures.

Each layer is printed at a rate that allows it to cool to the ideal temperature before the next layer is applied. If the layer becomes too hot, print speed is reduced to allow more cooling time. If it becomes too cool, print speed is increased to reduce cooling time. 

Real-Time Thermographic Image Display

A built-in thermographic imaging system displays a real time thermal image on the CNC control screen which aides the operator in achieving and maintaining the ideal print temperature during the print process.

Real-Time LSAM Thermographic Image Display

Temperature Control Module Integrated into LSAM

The LSAM Universal Print Head can process material at temperatures up to 450oC. It uses an electronic temperature control module integrated within the print gantry CNC control, allowing full integration of temperature and pressure control with exclusive features of Thermwood’s print gantry CNC control, better supporting processes unique to 3D printing.

Temperature Control Module Integrated into LSAM

Three Melt Core Choices for LSAM

Thermwood offers three melt cores for its print head, each with a different maximum print rate. The maximum print rate determines the longest bead that can be printed during the available cooling time between layers.  This cooling time varies depending on material, amount of fan cooling and geometric shape of the layer, but the faster the print rate the more material that can be laid down within the cooling time between layers, so faster print heads allow larger parts to be printed, but don’t really print parts faster.

Fastest Printing With LSAM

Even the standard 40mm LSAM melt core is generally so fast that it must be slowed on most parts to keep from printing a layer so fast that it doesn’t have sufficient time to cool properly between layers. In this case, often multiple parts can be printed in the same time it takes to print just one.

The LSAM machine is equipped with a standard 40mm Melt Core which includes a patented 40mm high speed extrusion screw coupled to a corresponding melt pump and deposition head. This standard configuration processes over 200 pounds of material an hour, depending on the specific material and is suitable for parts that have a print layer lap length of up to 200 feet while printing a standard bead that is .200 inch thick and .830 inch wide. This configuration has proven more than adequate for virtually all large parts today.

If even longer layer bead lengths are required, higher output Melt Cores are available. A 60mm Melt Core can process 50% more and a 70mm Melt Core has operated at rates of over 500 pounds per hour, which Thermwood expects to increase.

The fastest speed at which a part can be printed is determined by the cooling time required to reach the proper bonding temperature between layers and not by the output of the print head. Larger print head outputs simply allow larger parts to be printed within the cooling time between layers.

High output melt cores do, however, have a minimum operating speed so may not be suitable for smaller parts. If both small and really large parts are required on the same machine, the melt core can be changed from one size to another in less than a shift. 

New 10'x20' Demonstration LSAM Under Construction

This print head will be installed on a new 10’ x 20’ demonstration machine currently under construction at Thermwood. Production machines come standard with the 40mm Melt Core.

New 10'x20' Demonstration LSAM Under Construction

Thermwood’s LSAM machines both print and trim on the same machine using separate gantries. The new approach to print head design adds even more flexibility.

LSAM Produces Solid, Void-free Parts

Thermwood LSAM Produces Solid, Void-free Parts

Using this technology, Thermwood has been able to produce large tools that are solid and void free enough to maintain vacuum without sealing or surface coating. This simplifies production of the tool, allowing accurate machining of the surface without having to deal with distortions that might be caused by variations in the thickness of a coating. 

Print and Trim on the Same Machine

Thermwood offers a line of dual gantry additive manufacturing machines which both print and trim parts on the same machine. These machines can be up to 100 feet long with print head output rates from 150 to 500 pounds per hour.  

About the Thermwood LSAM

The Thermwood LSAM is used to produce large to very large sized components from reinforced thermoplastic composite materials.

Although suitable for producing a wide variety of components, Thermwood is focusing on producing industrial tooling, masters, patterns, molds and production fixtures for a variety of industries including aerospace, automotive, foundry and boating.   


Click for More Info on the Thermwood LSAM